- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

BONN Negotiators salvaged the global-warming treaty yesterday, paving the way for industrialized nations apart from the United States to begin the challenging and potentially costly task of reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases thought to be warming the earth's atmosphere.
Following an all-night negotiating session, Jan Pronk, the Netherlands' environment minister and chairman of the negotiations, announced the agreement to boisterous cheers in a hotel in the former West German capital.
"We did have discussions into the morning," he told weary diplomats from 178 countries. "But I think the investment was worth it."
The agreement's effects on the United States will be minimal. Other industrialized countries will have to develop new regulations and technologies to curb greenhouse-gas emissions to meet the requirements of the protocol, which was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997.
Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, come partly from burning fossil fuels that have powered industrialization.
Scientists say they are warming up the planet, inflicting potentially disastrous climate change such as freakish storms, longer droughts and floods.
The Bonn meeting was a final opportunity for countries to draft a plan to implement the pact. President Bush's rejection of the treaty as "fatally flawed" had cast a dark cloud over its future.
Representatives of the 15-nation European Union crowed yesterday that they had managed to rally countries around the Kyoto pact without American help.
"From the beginning, Europe has had a very clear and cohesive attitude on this," said Olivier Deleuze, Belgium's energy minister, who said EU countries would now move swiftly to ratify the pact. "Some have tried to portray us as naive."
Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, brushed off the implicit challenge to American leadership, saying the United States wanted a hands-off role on the treaty.
"We have always said that the ratification of Kyoto is up to the various countries," she told reporters traveling with the president in Rome.
Negotiators drafted the treaty to cut global greenhouse-gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. However, the reduction would be closer to 1.8 percent as a result of concessions that greased the way for a deal, environmentalists said.
Those concessions included a new draft agreement, issued over the weekend, that granted Japan, Canada and Australia in particular extensive new credits for forests that soak up carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.
Mr. Pronk's move elicited grumbles from environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. But they supported the deal as the best chance to resuscitate the ailing Kyoto pact.
"What is really important is that it establishes a flexible framework for pollution reductions that will be modified and improved decade after decade," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, based in Washington.
Crucially for the future of the Kyoto pact, Japan signed on to the deal after reaching a last-minute agreement with the European Union on the penalties that countries will have to pay for missing their Kyoto limits. Mr. Pronk, at a 1 a.m. meeting, convinced countries to focus on the issue for the final eight hours of negotiations.
Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japan's environment minister, said Japan still would seek the support of its close ally, the United States, but strongly hinted it would ratify the pact regardless.
"Today's agreement is a critical step toward ensuring the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002," she said.
The deal clears the way for nations to continue the process of ratifying the protocol, which delegates hope to achieve in 2002, the 10th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The treaty must be ratified by 55 nations responsible for more than half of the emissions to take force. Some 30 nations have ratified the pact.
With the United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, on the sidelines, Japan's participation was vital to the agreement.
Developing countries were won over by a promise by the European Union and five other nations Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland to drum up $410 million a year starting in 2005 to help them improve emissions control so they can join the treaty. The figure will be reviewed in 2008.
The American delegation in Bonn remained on the fringes of the talks and lived up to the Bush administration promise not to stand in the way of an agreement, diplomats said. Mr. Pronk said the United States was "constructive, and that is not a hollow term."
Nevertheless, boos and catcalls greeted Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, at the final meeting when she said that the administration "takes the issue of climate change very seriously" and will not "abdicate our responsibilities."
A Cabinet-level working group is developing a U.S. strategy to combat global warming, but Mr. Bush has not said when it will reveal its plan.
Mrs. Dobriansky noted the deal will not require the United States to fund any part of the treaty one of Washington's chief concerns.
Environmentalists said Mr. Bush's failure to put forward an alternative to Kyoto ultimately energized the Bonn negotiations to proceed quickly without the United States.
"He finally lost credibility with Japan and other nations, who decided they had no choice but to make their own deals on their own terms," Mr. Clapp said.
"Almost every single country stayed in the protocol," Mr. Deleuze said. "There was one that said the Kyoto Protocol was flawed. Do you see the Kyoto Protocol flawed?"
Diplomats will remain in Bonn for the rest of the week to draft the final legal text of the agreement.

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